First and Goal with Matt Snyder
Junior wide receiver Matt Snyder and the Cavaliers return home on Saturday to host North Carolina in the 115th installment of the South’s Oldest Rivalry. Coming off a career day at Georgia Tech, the Glen Allen, Va., native recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to discuss his four catches and 96 receiving yards against the Yellow Jackets, how the offense looks to bounce back against the Tar Heels, walking on to the UVa football team and playing football for the Cavaliers along side his brother Jake.
Question: After falling to Georgia Tech on the road, what can the team work on this week in practice to get back on its feet in time for North Carolina on Saturday?
Snyder: There’s always things you can improve on after a loss, but I think our offense is focused more on preparation for our next opponent and just trying to get things right-everyone on the team is taking their responsibilities and doing what they need to do to be one-eleventh of the offense.
Question: The team may have had a disappointing result against the Yellow Jackets, but you had a pretty good day individually, leading the team in receiving with a career-high 96 yards on four catches. Is there anything particular you attribute your performance to?
Snyder: Leading in receiving was great, but it’s just whenever the ball comes to you, you try to make a play and help the team. I was fortunate to have it come my way a few times at the end [of the game] and that worked out. But it’s a different guy every game.
Question: Unfortunately, the offense has lost a few of those go-to guys to injury this season, including Tim Smith earlier in the year and now tight end Joe Torchia. How difficult is it to move on after seeing a teammate go down like that?
Snyder: It’s always tough to lose guys like Joe and Tim. You hate to see that, but injuries are a part of football and it happens to every team. Sometimes it’s worse for certain teams than others. You learn a lot from that though-you learn to go hard every play because you never know when a play might be your last, or if a game might be your last.
Question: The possibility of injuries make it especially important for coaches to have players like yourself, who are ready to come off the bench and step up. You were actually a walk-on when you first came to Virginia and were just recently awarded a scholarship this year. How different has your experience been as a walk-on?
Snyder: It’s definitely different to walk-on, but you learn that as a few months go on and you start to prove yourself and show that you can work hard and play football, it’s not any different in the locker room. Virginia is a very walk-on friendly-a very opportunity-friendly-program. You’ve seen a lot of players like Jon Copper and Byron Glaspy walk-on and do great things. Coming in, I didn’t realize either of them had walked on because they’re such great players. It gives other walk-ons great aspirations. It is rewarding to eventually win a scholarship though-I can’t even tell you.
Question: As a walk-on, do you have to try out for the team initially, or are you still recruited?
Snyder: I was actually recruited out of high school, so they had me come in early and go through things. I missed my first training camp due to an injury from high school, but I came in with the team and started the season with the team. It was pretty much normal.
Question: Now a redshirt junior, you were on the sideline when the Cavaliers last hosted North Carolina in that thrilling overtime win back in 2008. What’s your memory of that game? Do you remember the crowd rushing the field afterward?
Snyder: It was great. I actually have a picture from that game that I gave my dad for Christmas. What I remember from that was the great players we played with on our team-the heart of Cedric Peerman and John Phillips and Clint Sintim. We want to have that on our team this year-we want to have that passion and that heart. I can remember when Cedric scored that last touchdown just being overjoyed and running out onto the field and then the crowd came running down. We’re looking to have another moment like that this Saturday.
Question: Saturday’s game against the Tar Heels will also be Homecomings. How much more exciting will that make it for the team to play in front of a big home crowd?
Snyder: That will be great for all of the alumni and everyone that’s back for the game, but we just try to focus on the game and not get too caught up in homecoming. We’ve just have to get ready for North Carolina.
Question: With a 6 p.m. kickoff, the game will start a little later than last weekend’s against Georgia Tech. How will that effect your game day preparation?
Snyder: A late start is definitely different from a noon game because you get time to sleep in a little, you have a little more meetings during the day, and you get to think about it a little more-which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. You’re definitely able to get your mind ready and your body ready for the game with a 6 p.m. start, and it’s always fun to play at night at Scott Stadium. It will be enjoyable.
Question: If you had to pick, what would be the ideal time for kickoff?
Snyder: I feel like all of them have a different benefit-pros and cons. The 12 p.m. start is definitely good because you wake up and you get right to the game. You wake up and go, but then you don’t get to sleep as much. But we’re going to bed early anyway.
Question: You’re not the only one in your family who has to be ready on Virginia game days-your younger brother, Jake, followed in your footsteps and is now a sophomore defensive end for the Cavaliers. Was it helpful to you growing up to have Jake involved in the same sport?
Snyder: It definitely was-both of my brothers. Since all three of us were growing up together, we’ve done everything together-from when we were little, just running around together, to playing football and baseball and whatever it is. We all have a great relationship, and I really value that-especially having Jake here now is very fun. Having my other younger brother, Will, come up to these games has just been great and getting to see him most every weekend is just great. I’m lucky to be so close to home.
Question: Having played baseball growing up with your brothers, you must have a favorite team, right?
Snyder: Yeah, I’ve always liked the Braves. I was pretty bummed about the other night.
Question: That’s too bad. Now that your Braves are out, who’s your pick to win the World Series?
Snyder: You know, I’ve been focused on the Braves. But let’s see…I’m going to have to go with a dark horse and say the Rangers.
Question: Moving on to some more “quick hits,” who was your role model growing up?
Snyder: My dad.
Question: Favorite cereal?
Snyder: Honey Bunches of Oats-with almonds.
Question: Postgame meal?
Snyder: A cheeseburger.
Question: Golf handicap?
Snyder: Too high to count.
Question: Favorite TV show when you were a kid?
Snyder: This is a very important question so I’m going to give it a lot of thought … How about Malcolm in the Middle? That was my favorite show growing up.
Question: If you were NFL Commissioner for a day, what change would you make?
Snyder: What change would I make? I think he’s doing a great job.
Question: Last but not least, post-college ambitions?
Snyder: We’ll have to talk about that when we get there.